Ratepayers fork out for private investigator

Ratepayers fork out for private investigator

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A handful of City of Canning councillors are up in arms over what they are calling an “illegal” and “unconstitutional” use of ratepayers’ money.

A notice of motion was presented to the city’s council for consideration on August 17, regarding documents and correspondence relating to a payment of $3666.96 for ‘investigative services’.

The motion called for the city to provide all documentation and electronic correspondence relevant to the matter to councillors at the next council meeting.

According to councillor Graham Barry, two elected members to date have requested access to the related documentation and electronic correspondence.

He also confirmed that their requests to view the documents were denied.

Councillor Craig Sweeney, who seconded the motion, said all city staff and councillors should strive for fairness and honesty, at all times.

“In terms of this matter, we seem to be at a crossroads between the city’s need to preserve confidentiality and the council’s need for transparency.

“I think we should be striving for high standards and openness…I would urge councillors to support Cr Barry’s notice of motion.”

The city mayor Patrick Hall spoke out against the notice of motion, saying that he was “disheartened” by it.

“To disclose any detail of a complaint, even the fact that a complaint has been made, is a breach,” he said.

“If the matter is supported by this council, then the council will potentially be committing an unlawful act.

“I strongly urge the council to not endorse the notice of motion put forward by Cr Barry, as the implications of doing so could be catastrophic to the council’s image.”

Fellow councillor Amanda Spencer-Teo also spoke against the notice of motion, describing it as an “overreach”.

“This is not relevant to the functions of our roles, and I certainly will not be complicit in breaching confidentiality or the Local Government Act,” she added.

Following an extended debate, the council voted 3/8 against the notice of motion.

Speaking after the meeting, one elected member – who The Examiner has chosen not to identify, said they were outraged by the payment, describing it as “illegal” and “unconstitutional”.

“This was found on a Warrant Listing, under Audit and Assurance, for the figure of around $3700,” the councillor said.

“Only after multiple enquiries is it now known that the money was used to hire a private investigator.

“I personally believe there may be a political motivation to try and find anything on one’s political opponents.

“It’s actually a sign of great desperation and a lowering of standards…this cannot be allowed to happen again at Canning, or at any other council for that matter.”

Canning Mayor Patrick Hall later told 6PR that the former CEO of the City of Canning, Arthur Kyron had hired the private investigator, and this was later confirmed by the City of Canning.

Mr Hall said he was unaware of who was being investigated.

“I certainly don’t know. It’s not in the remit of elected members to know about any matter other than what is necessary to complete their role as an elected member,” he said.

“It could have been around a tender process. It could have been about procurement.”

He also told the program that councillor Barry put forward the motion after being advised by both the former and current CEO that the information could not be shared lawfully.

Mr Hall explained that the legal advice the city sought on the matter, incurred the additional cost of $2600.

Responding to The Examiner’s questions, a city spokesperson said the city was not going to reveal any details on the investigation.

“Any investigation that the city undertakes that is of a confidential nature will be treated as such,” they said.

“Good governance requires that the city not comment on the content or outcome of such matters.”